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Vive la French Fashion

The cities considered the global “Big Four” fashion capitals of the 21st century are MilanLondonNew York and Paris.

A fashion capital is a city which has a major influence on international fashion trends and events such as fashion weeks, awards and trade fairs.

Historically however, several cities have in turn been fashion capitals. During the Renaissance period it was the city-states of Florence. Milan, Rome, Genoa and Venice.

London was next, then it was Madrid and Barcelona’s turn followed by Paris under Louis XIV, and replaced by London once again in the 19 th century.

The Shifting Focus of Fashion

During the ‘Golden Twenties the fashion focus was on Berlin and during the post war era, the focus was on New York owing to their fashion prominence in sportswear design.

The focus eventually shifted again. This time to Milan in the seventies and Tokyo in the eighties. Since then new fashion hubs have emerged worldwide and there are currently 63 internationally recognised fashion capitals.

Iconic French Brands

Nowhere else in the world however, is the pulse of fashion more passionately felt than in France with their famous fashion designers, perfume makers, jewelers, skilled fashion accessory craftsmen and the hugely influential Paris Fashion Shows.

The recent royal wedding won glowing praise by fashionistas globally that Meghan Markle, now her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex, chose a superbly designed wedding dress by the esteemed Givenchy fashion house in Paris.

Fashion Genre Commercials

Advertising fashion themes are traditionally about romanticised images, stylish elegance, sensuality and phantasy. Story lines are often quite minimal and require some suspension of belief as they are far removed from everyday reality.

In many markets however, famous fashion brands are status symbols for a significant number of middle-class consumers, especially the nouveau riche.

1. Longchamp, The Encounter

Agency: Air Paris

Longchamp is a luxury leather goods manufacturer, founded in Paris in 1948.

It is known for its quality products that have been crafted with a saddlemaker’s meticulous skill.

The company was named after the famous Longchamp racecourse located on a bank of the Seine, that for many years was the most important social hub in Paris. The company also adopted an emblematic horse as their logo.

Directed by John Christopher Pina, ‘The Encounter/La Rencontre’ commercial stars Kendall Jenner racing to catch up with a Longchamp horse freely galloping through the scenic streets of Paris.

The ‘Encounter’ represents Longchamp’s launch of stylish new product offerings for a new generation of fashion conscious young women to pursue and encounter.

2. Lacoste, Timeless

Advertising Agency: BETC, Paris

The Lacoste French clothing company was founded in 1933 by tennis player Rene Lacoste, known as the crocodile on court, and prominent knitwear factory owner, Andre Gillier.

Superbly directed by Seb Edwards, the short story is a timejump through 80 years of history during which Lacoste evolved from a sports brand to a fashion brand.

Aided by a great soundtrack featuring Max Richter’s song ‘November’, the commercial makes for very rewarding viewing of ‘what makes life beautiful’.

3. Cartier Odyssey

Advertising Agency: Marcel, Paris

King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as “the jeweler of kings, and the king of jewelers”. The Paris Jeweler’s long tradition of royal patronage includes the courts of Europe, Russia, Serbia, Siam, Greece, Romania, Egypt and Albania.

The focus of this spectacular three-and-a-half minute commercial of Cartier’s 165-year history, directed by Bruno Aveilan, is about a Panther.

The instantly recognizable symbol of the Cartier brand takes a trip around the globe and encounters key moments and locations from the jeweler-maker’s sumptuous, long history.

The panther also visits an Indian palace filled with Cartier’s famous animal jewelry pieces, before coming home to supermodel Shalom Harlow at the Grand Palais in Paris, the birthplace of Cartier.

4. KENZO World, The New Fragrance

Publicity and Communications Agency: Framework

KENZO is a French luxury house founded in 1970 by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada. He moved to Paris in 1964 to start his fashion career.

Starring actress Margaret Qualley, the commercial for Kenzo’s new fragrance was written and directed by Spike Jonez.

The original soundtrack ‘Mutant Brain,’ was composed and written by DJs Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums with vocals by Assassin.

The story is about a wedding guest in a green dress that leaves her table companions, and begins a surreal dance routine around the hotel. The packaging design for KENZO World features a prominent icon of an eye, a large symbol of which appears in the film.

The commercial was universally applauded by the fashion and advertising tade presses for its originality, spirit of independence and freedom. It was described as creating a new benchmark of what perfume advertising should be.

2000,000 views were recorded within a week after the commercial’s online posting. The campaign went on to win many awards including an Epica Grand Prix for Film, and 8 Cannes Lions.

The top Cannes honour was a Titanium Lion, an exceptional award that goes to game-changing campaigns that shake up existing norms and rewrite the rules.

5. Jean-Paul Gaultier, On The Docks

 Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Paris

Johnny Green directed this cinematic love story for fashion designer Jean-Paul Gautier’s ‘Le Male and ‘Classique’ cologne ranges. The resonant soundtrack is ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s ‘Norma’.

Apart from the totally unnecessary intrusion of a ‘voice-over’ at the end, it is a visually driven story of breathtaking imagery that spearheaded the brand’s spectacular success globally as a new market entrant.